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Carpe Diem Maldives announce Marine Expeditions and Conservation Programmes with Scripps for 2019

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Following the successful exploration visit by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, in September 2018, a research collaboration with Carpe Diem Maldives continues through 2019 on the cruises and at the new resort for the 100 Island Challenge.

At the heart of Carpe Diem Maldives everyday operations is a commitment to preserving the reef and marine life of The Maldives. Acting on this promise, Carpe Diem Maldives is delighted to continue with the Dive with a Purpose marine conservation programmes for 2019 in collaboration with Scripps Institution of Oceanography from the United States of America.

Guest divers can join the visiting scientists from Scripps with a choice of two Dive with a Purpose trips on our award-winning cruises, as they continue to research the effects of climate change on the underwater ecosystem and to describe the variation of coral reefs across the globe. The Scripps visiting scientists will also spend two weeks at Carpe Diem Beach Resort & Spa in Raa Atoll, as part of their 100 Island Challenge research programme.

Agnes Van Linden, Assistant Managing Director for Carpe Diem Maldives says:

The knowledge shared and the guest experience on the September trip with Scripps this year was very inspiring and we received excellent guest feedback. In recent years we have focused on reef cleaning and Crown of Thorns Starfish, which has been invaluable and from that, many of our cruises since then regularly include one conservation dive at the request of the guests. Our dive guides have learnt so much from the past trips, its wonderful to be able to continue that work and offer it all year round. This new collaboration with Scripps takes the Dive with a Purpose trips to another level and at the same time we are delighted to support their own research work in doing so. It’s meaningful for us, for our guest divers and of course, in the best interests of the environment.”

The cruises departing April 11-21 on Carpe Vita and May 5-11 on Carpe Novo will offer up to 3 dives a day to visit a cross section of reefs that were damaged in the 2014 coral bleaching and haven’t been visited since then, as well as healthy reefs with an abundance of marine life. Each of the Dive with a Purpose safari cruises invites 16 guest divers to join the 4 marine scientists as they replicate the methodology of the classical field surveys Scripps undertake, using innovative imaging and data technologies to archive reefs digitally and watch how populations change through time.

Most of the dives will be on healthy reefs with soft and hard corals, giving divers the opportunity to see manta rays and the underwater life that is naturally surrounding each dive. The scientific research element is an enhancement to this particular cruise itinerary. Recreational guest divers joining the cruise will learn how to take their own reef images to recreate a virtual reality of the dive using special software. In the evenings, presentations will elaborate further on the sightings of the day and the work of Scripps 100 Island Challenge.

During their visit to The Maldives, the Scripps researchers will also spend two weeks at Carpe Diem Beach Resort & Spa to continue their project surveys on the sites officially assigned to the 100 Island Challenge. With the professional and scientific sampling approach, the research results will contribute to a better understanding of the current state of coral reefs globally and provide invaluable insights into how and why the reefs are changing through time.

General Manager, Socrates Alvaro says: 

This opportunity is invaluable to a guest experience. To be able to snorkel or dive with such a high caliber of marine research scientist amidst the beauty of The Maldives destination, hear presentations and knowledge sharing evenings, and gain an informed and comprehensive understanding of our coral reefs is truly enriching. The threat posed by climate change and the need to preserve coral reefs globally is one of the most important issues facing us today. That’s one reason why we began planting a coral nursery in our lagoon one year before even opening the resort. Every day presents new opportunities and it is for us to embrace these and, literally seize the day! I am delighted we are able to support the tremendous work Scripps are undertaking as part of a global research programme, and bring that to The Maldives in such a way that guests can learn and benefit too.

On reefs visited with Carpe Diem Cruises and on the house reef at Carpe Diem Beach Resort & Spa the visiting researchers from Scripps will provide scientific context to coral reef observations through informational lectures, discussions, and general conversations. They will demonstrate use of 3D imaging within the context of the 100 Island Challenge, introduce workflow and approach for 3D imaging to guest divers, and create 3D models from guest-collected imagery, providing them with a 3D image as a take-home memento for participating in the dive with a purpose week.

For more information, please enquire with your local travel agent or direct with Carpe Diem Maldives at info@carpediemmaldives.com.

For more information on the 100 Island Challenge, please visit 100islandchallenge.org.

In the Winter issue (out January 2019!) of Scubaverse’s Dive Travel Adventures, read all about Yo-Han Cha’s expedition with the Scripps Team aboard Carpe Vita!

Marine Life & Conservation

Ghost Fishing UK land the prize catch at the Fishing News Awards

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The charity Ghost Fishing UK was stunned to win the Sustainability Award.

The winners were selected by a panel of industry judges and the award recognises innovation and achievement in improving sustainability and environmental responsibility within the UK or Irish fishing industries in 2021.

Nominees must have demonstrated a unique and innovative response to an environmental sustainability issue within the UK or Irish industry, demonstrating that the project has gone above and beyond standard practice, and provided evidence of its impact. The judges look particularly for projects that have influenced a significant change in behaviour and/or that have inspired broader awareness and/or engagement.

Ghost Fishing UK originated in 2015, training voluntary scuba divers to survey and recover lost fishing gear, with the aim to either return it to the fishing industry or recycle it. The charity is run entirely by volunteers and has gone from strength to strength, only last year winning the Best Plastic Campaign at the Plastic Free Awards.

Now, the charity has also been recognised at seemingly the opposite end of the spectrum. This is a unique achievement as trustee Christine Grosart explains;

We have always held the belief that working with the fishing industry is far more productive than being against it, in terms of achieving our goals to reduce and remove lost fishing gear.

The positive response to our fisheries reporting system that we received from both the fishing industry and the marine environment sector, was evidence that working together delivers results.

The feedback we got from the awards evening and the two-day Scottish Skipper Expo where we had an exhibit the following day, was that the fishing industry despises lost fishing gear as much as we do and the fishers here are very rarely at fault. It is costly to them to lose gear and they will make every effort to get it back, but sometimes they can’t. That is where we come in, to try to help. Everyone wins, most of all the environment. You can’t ask for much more.”

Following the awards, Ghost Fishing UK held an exhibit at the Scottish Skipper expo at the new P&J Live exhibition centre in Aberdeen.

This gave us a fantastic opportunity to meet so many people in the fishing industry, all of whom were highly supportive of our work and wanted to help us in any way they could. This has opened so many opportunities for the charity and our wish list which has been on the slow burner for the last 7 years, was exceeded in just 3 days. We came away from the events exhausted, elated, humbled, grateful and most of all, excited.”

Trustee and Operations Officer, Fred Nunn, is in charge of the diving logistics such as arranging boats and organising the divers, who the charity trains in house, to give up their free time to volunteer.

He drove from Cornwall to attend the awards and the exhibition: “What a crazy and amazing few days up in Scotland! It was awesome to meet such a variety of different people throughout the industry, who are all looking at different ways of improving the sustainability and reduction of the environmental impact of the fishing industry.

It was exciting to have so many people from the fishing industry approaching us to find out more about what we do, but also what they could offer. Fishermen came to us with reports and offers of help, using their vessels and other exhibitors tried to find ways that their product or service could assist in our mission.”

  • Ghost Fishing UK uses hard boat charters from Cornwall to Scotland for the diving projects, paying it forward to the diving community.
  • The charity relies on reports of lost fishing gear from the diving and fishing community and to date has received well over 200 reports, culminating on over 150 survey and ghost gear recovery dives, amounting to over 1000 individual dives and diver hours by the volunteer team members.
  • You can find more information at ghostfishing.co.uk
  • If you are a fisher who knows of any lost fishing gear, you can report it to the charity here: ghostfishing.co.uk/fishermans-reporting
  • The charity is heading to Shetland for a week-long project in the summer of 2023. If you would like to support this project, please contact them at: info@ghostfishing.co.uk

Chair of Ghost Fishing UK and professional technical diving instructor Dr Richard Walker was immensely proud of the team’s achievements;

I’ve been a scuba diver since 1991 and have met thousands of divers in that time. I’d be hard pushed to think of one of them that wasn’t concerned about conservation of our marine environment. To be recognised by the fishing industry for our efforts in sustainability is a huge honour for us, and has encouraged our team to work even harder to find, survey and remove lost fishing gear from the seas. The fact that the fishing industry recognises our efforts, and appreciates our stance as a group that wants to work alongside them is one of the highlights of our charity’s history, and we look forward to building the relationship further.

To find out more about Ghost Fishing UK visit their website here.


All images: Ghost Fishing UK

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Marine Life & Conservation

Komodo National Park found to be Manta Hotspot

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Through a collaborative effort between citizen divers, scientists from the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), and Murdoch University, a new study reports a large number of manta rays in the waters of Komodo National Park, Indonesian, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, suggesting the area may hold the key to regional recovery of the threatened species.

Reef mantas (Mobula alfredi), which grow up to 5m, tend to reside and feed in shallow, coastal habitats. They also visit ‘cleaning stations’ on coral reefs to have parasites, or dead skin picked off by small fish. Courtship ‘trains’ are also observed adjacent to cleaning stations. In Komodo National Park, manta rays are present year-round, challenging the famous Komodo dragon as the most sought-after megafauna for visitors.

Scientists teamed up with the dive operator community to source identification photographs of manta rays visiting the parks’ waters and submit them to MantaMatcher.org – a crowdsourced online database for mantas and other rays. Most of the photographs came from just four locations from over 20 commonly visited by tourism boats.

I was amazed by how receptive the local dive community was in helping collect much-needed data on these threatened animals,” said lead author Dr. Elitza Germanov. “With their support, we were able to identify over 1,000 individual manta rays from over 4,000 photographs.

People love manta rays—they are one of the most iconic animals in our oceans. The rise of the number of people engaging in SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and the advent of affordable underwater cameras meant that photos and videos taken by the public during their holidays could be used to quickly and affordably scale data collection,” said MMF co-founder and study co-author Dr. Andrea Marshall.

The photographs’ accompanying time and location data is used to construct sighting histories of individual manta rays, which can then be analyzed with statistical movement models. These models predict the likelihood that manta rays are inhabiting or traveling in between specific sites. The study’s results showed that some manta rays moved around the park and others as far as the Nusa Penida MPA (>450 km to the west), but overall, manta rays showed individual preferences for specific sites within the Park.

I found it very interesting how some manta rays appear to prefer spending their time in some sites more than others, even when sites are 5 km apart, which are short distances for manta rays,” said Dr. Elitza Germanov. “This means that manta rays which prefer sites where fishing activities continue to occur or that are more popular with tourism will endure greater impacts.”

Fishing activities have been prohibited in many coastal areas within Komodo NP since 1984, offering some protection to manta rays prior to the 2014 nationwide protection. However, due to illegal fishing activity and manta ray movements into heavily fished waters, manta rays continue to face a number of threats from fisheries. About 5% of Komodo’s manta rays have permanent injuries that are likely the result of encounters with fishing gear.

The popularity of tourism to these sites grew by 34% during the course of the study. An increase in human activity can negatively impact manta rays and their habitats. In 2019, the Komodo National Park Authority introduced limits on the number of boats and people that visit one of the most famous manta sites.

This study shows that the places where tourists commonly observe manta rays are important for the animals to feed, clean, and mate. This means that the Komodo National Park should create measures to limit the disturbance at these sites,” said Mr. Ande Kefi, an employee of the Komodo National Park involved with this study. “I hope that this study will encourage tourism operators to understand the need for the regulations already imposed and increase compliance.”

Despite Indonesia’s history with intensive manta ray fisheries, Komodo National Park still retains large manta ray aggregations that with careful ongoing management and threat reduction will benefit regional manta ray populations. The study highlights that marine protected areas that are large enough to host important manta ray habitats are a beneficial tool for manta ray conservation.

For more information about MMF visit their website here.

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